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Medicine in the Edo Period

 
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Sima Qian
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:47 pm    Post subject: Medicine in the Edo Period Reply with quote
Wow, it feels like ages since the last time i've been here.

So i wanted to open a discussion about Medicine and Medical Traditions in the Edo period.

This is a bit of subject matter that i'm rather interested in, however I have not found too many resources on.

I guess the place to start is with the indigenous tradition of Kampo and its source in the Ishinpō. Between its importation from China to the beginning of Rangaku studies, Kampo = Medicine.

So, let's break out the litany of questions:

1.) Who were the best physicians trained in Kampo? Did they originate from a particular family, province, city, district etc?

2.) Did Kampo generate a set of "medical classics" from the Ishinpō? Were there schools of medicine during the Edo period?

3.) What was the social standing of physicians? What was their economic standing?

More to come, your thoughts are always appreciated.
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Bethetsu
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
As to the social standing of physicians, even those who were commoners could normally use family names. Murata Zôroku (later Ômura Masujirô) comes to mind.
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Wave Tossed
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
As to the social standing of physicians, even those who were commoners could normally use family names. Murata Zôroku (later Ômura Masujirô) comes to mind.
I was curious about that as well. Were physicians considered "buke" or "commoners?"

Also, were there licensing agencies to define who qualifies as a "physician?" I'm sure that not all snake-oil salespeople could go and hang out their shingles as a "physician."
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Bethetsu
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wave Tossed wrote:
I was curious about that as well. Were physicians considered "buke" or "commoners?"
I am surprised at you, Wave.Very Happy In the Edo period you were pretty much buke if and only if your father was. So there were both. I remember Murata's case from the Taiga Kashin (I know it is perhaps "reel" history, but probably pretty accurate). He considered himself definately "hyakushô,"but later when the han wanted him for military use his father, a "village doctor" was made an "upper-class bushi" and found it rather incongruous.
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Also, were there licensing agencies to define who qualifies as a "physician?" I'm sure that not all snake-oil salespeople could go and hang out their shingles as a "physician."
This is my guess, but I doubt there were licensing agencies. You probably were qualified by the physician you studied under. If someone unknown claiming to be a physician moved into the area, he was probably investigated by the local authorities. (As was anyone unknown investigated, probably.) A licencing system was established in 1875, though.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Wave Tossed wrote:
I was curious about that as well. Were physicians considered "buke" or "commoners?"
I am surprised at you, Wave.Very Happy In the Edo period you were pretty much buke if and only if your father was. So there were both. I remember Murata's case from the Taiga Kashin (I know it is perhaps "reel" history, but probably pretty accurate). He considered himself definately "hyakushô,"but later when the han wanted him for military use his father, a "village doctor" was made an "upper-class bushi" and found it rather incongruous.
So there were both bushi and commoner physcians? I thought that one had to be in the buke class to study as a doctor. Am I wrong? I've always been a bit confused by this.
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Quote:
Also, were there licensing agencies to define who qualifies as a "physician?" I'm sure that not all snake-oil salespeople could go and hang out their shingles as a "physician."
This is my guess, but I doubt there were licensing agencies. You probably were qualified by the physician you studied under. If someone unknown claiming to be a physician moved into the area, he was probably investigated by the local authorities. (As was anyone unknown investigated, probably.) A licencing system was established in 1875, though.
There is some "reel history" where, in a TV series, Momotaro Samurai. In this series, a ronin makes his living by setting himself up as a medical pratictioner -- but he doesn't claim that he is a doctor. In order for him to actually be a "doctor," I gather that he would have to have established qualifications as having studied under a doctor. Again, this is "reel" history, not real history. I don't know if anyone could set him/herself up as a medical practioner or "healer."

I do know that there were registered acupuncturists and masseurs/masseuses, mostly blind people, who were considered to have some healing ability.
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Bethetsu
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wave Tossed wrote:
So there were both bushi and commoner physcians? I thought that one had to be in the buke class to study as a doctor. Am I wrong? I've always been a bit confused by this.
Dunn's Everyday Life in Traditional [=Edo] Japan says that doctors were "outside the class system." Usually "they transmitted their learining to their sons, whom they also sent to work under great masters in Kyoto and other towns." Before Hideyoshi fixed the bushi class there must have been many doctors in private practice (machi isha), and I suppose neither he nor the Tokugawa saw any reason to force out of practice those who did not take service with a fudal lord.

But there were also doctors who were definately buke (ji-i/ 侍医samurai-doctor), that is retainers of a daimyo, for example Shibue Chusai of Tsugaru han. (see WOMAN IN THE CRESTED KIMONO The Life of Shibue Io and Her Family Drawn From Mori Ogai's ''Shibue Chusai.'' By Edwin McClellan. )
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks, Bethetsu, that clarifies a few things. Smile

Now I can take off for Japan with new knowledge! Very Happy
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